Fewer disciplines for weapons at PPS, but it’s all in the reporting

Fewer disciplines for weapons at PPS, but it’s all in the reporting »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A big drop-off in the number of students disciplined for bringing weapons on campus was recently reported by Portland Public Schools.

KATU’s On Your Side Investigators discovered, however, that the decline has more to do with how the numbers were reported than what was actually happening at schools.

In the 2008-2009 academic year Portland Public Schools told the state 90 students were disciplined in weapons cases, but in 2012-2013 fewer than five cases were reported. Compared to other local school districts, the more recent numbers from Portland are extremely low.

Students Disciplined in Weapons Cases:

District 2008-2009 2012-2013
Beaverton 52 65
Hillsboro 40 30
North Clackamas 32 32
Reynolds 30 32
Portland 90 <5

A Portland Public Schools spokeswoman says the drop off happened because the district decided to only use the weapons reporting classification when a student threatens someone with a weapon or uses it in an altercation. That’s not what the state wants them to do. Parents KATU spoke with don’t like it either.

"Sounds like they're artificially changing the statistics,” said Jed Ambrose, a father of two students. “Instead of saying what's actually happening, they're making it sound better."

"If they're not reporting what they're supposed to,” said Dan Zidan, another father, “then, no, I don't trust them."

Oregon’s Department of Education told the district it needs to report basically every time a student brings a weapon to school under the appropriate weapons classification. The district is going along with that, but says the state's definition of a weapon may be too vague, and that under the state's guidelines a lot of everyday objects could be considered weapons.

The district says it has been reporting incidents involving weapons, just classifying them differently as possession of contraband, for example. They say schools are being kept safe and that students are being disciplined when it's appropriate.